Ash Wednesday


From dust you have come, to dust you will return. Repent and believe the Gospel. Lester Memorial pastoral staff (from left) Harvey Beck, Skyler Jones, and Joe Hastings demonstrate the imposition of the ashes.

From dust you have come, to dust you will return. Repent and believe the Gospel. Lester Memorial pastoral staff (from left) Harvey Beck, Skyler Jones, and Joe Hastings demonstrate the imposition of the ashes.

Today is Ash Wednesday, a Christian holy day of prayer, fasting, and repentance that marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 40-day period of preparation for Easter that traditionally involves abstaining from a luxury in order to devote time to prayer and reflection. Forty days represents Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal to the wilderness. According to The United Methodist Book of Worship, during the imposition of ashes on the forehead, “we confront our own mortality and confess our sin before God within the community of faith.”

I have known many people who give up sweets or chocolate or caffeine or something similar. I know one person who fasts from the evening meal. Fasting doesn’t have to involve food. You can turn off the TV or stay off social media for 40 days. Choose one possession every day to give to someone who needs it or donate to a charitable organization. There are an infinite number of possibilities.

I have observed many types of fasts for Lent and all have served to help me prepare for Easter. I have also on a few occasions added activities as a Lenten exercise, which is ultimately a sacrifice of time. If you don’t already have a regular daily devotion time, consider waking a few minutes earlier than normal to read Scripture or a short devotion. Make a conscious effort to perform one act of random kindness every day. Again, there are infinite possibilities. Ash Wednesday services

Calvary Episcopal Church, 5 p.m.

Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 8:30 a.m. (English), noon (bilingual), 7 p.m. (Spanish)

Lebanon United Methodist Church, 6 p.m.

Lester Memorial United Methodist Church, 6 p.m.